It's hard to believe I spent the majority of my life not knowing about Scotland's Burns Night. I used to think the holiday season ended with New Year's Eve. Man was I wrong. Burns Night is a truly awesome holiday.
Let me clue you in. Every year on January 25th Scots gather for a communal supper to commemorate the birthday of celebrated poet Robert Burns.
Perhaps you're thinking, what's so special about friends gathering for dinner? Pipe down I'm getting to that.
Legend has it that in the years following Burns' death in 1796 his friends gathered on his birthday to eat and drink to his memory. Over time the tradition evolved to include a slew of rituals, a fair share of whisky, and of course poetry.
DId I mention rituals? Like the one where you parade a haggis into a room to the tune of bagpipes then recite poetry at it? Not poetry in front of it-- you actually read Burns' "Address to a Haggis" to the meat itself.
Need I say more?
I don't but I will.
In addition to haggis a variety of traditional fare is served. The supper often starts with a soup like cullen skink, followed by the aforementioned haggis (mandatory), and sides like mashed "tatties" and "neep" (potatoes and rutabaga). Dessert commonly features oatcakes and cranachan: a delightful trifle of whisky-spiked creme, raspberries, and toasted oats (recipe on the right).
Courses are accompanied by whisky toasts and more poetry.
I'm telling you this because perhaps you're looking for something to shake off the winter blues. I know where I'll be on the 25th: isolated at home with my loved ones and a bottle of whisky, talking to a haggis.
(I purchased my haggis at Savenors in Cambridge)
This is the kind of recipe that's easy to personalize. It can be as simple as fresh raspberries, whipped cream folded with whisky and honey, and toasted rolled oats. Or you can dolly it up by swapping the oats for steel cut or crumble topping, the cream for something like whipped mascarpone, or the raspberries for jam.
Our recipe falls somewhere in the middle. Raspberries aren't at their best this time of year so we macerate them with sugar and top it off with some of the fresh berries. We picked a stronger wildflower honey to pair with the smoky scotch, and whipping the cream in the food processor makes for a denser, richer texture.
Whatever you do, this is a dessert that appreciates great ingredients. Use high-quality oats, rich cream, good honey, and a scotch you want to drink! We carry organic oats from Aurora Farms in Maine and Carlisle Honey from Massachusetts. We splurged on a nice bottle of scotch for this recipe because the flavor does come through, but you can make it with any decent brand.
4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons scotch
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
3 pints raspberries
4 tablespoons sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly crush 2 pints of raspberries and toss with sugar. Set aside to macerate for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile spread oats on a sheet tray and toast in the oven for 8 minutes. Give them a stir and return to the oven for about 5 minutes until lightly browned. Soak 1 cup of toasted oats in 1 cup of hot water for about 30 minutes until plump reserving the rest for later. Drain and lightly press out excess water.
When you're about ready to serve, make the whiskey cream. Whip cream in the food processor until it starts to thicken (if you don't have a food processor, use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or whip by hand with a whisk). Add honey and scotch and continue to whip cream until it forms stiff peaks. Don't go too far or it will turn into butter! Fold the soaked oats into whipped cream.
Scoop a layer of cream into the bottom of a rocks glass. Top with a layer of macerated raspberries then sprinkle with reserved toasted oats. Repeat with another layer of cream, macerated berries, and oats. Finally top with more cream and fresh berries and sprinkle more oats on top. Eat while enjoying poetry, bagpipes and a nice glass of scotch.